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The .32 Mag is a TRUE outdoorsmans gun...

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jame, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. jame

    jame Well-Known Member

    ....so why is it (or why was it) so heavily promoted as a defensive tool?

    As an avid outdoors guy here in the upper midwest, it's all I need. It's light, and it's incredibly cheap and easy to reload. For me, the .32 mag does it all.

    As a guy that carries concealed, more power or more concealed is desireable, depending on the situation, is primary. For me, the .32 doesn't cut it. (although I'm sure it would in a pinch.)

    Why isn't the .32 more popular as a sporting gun?
  2. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I prefer .357 outdoors, but I have a buddy that loves his Ruger SSM in .32 mag and he gets some impressive ballistics out of it. I can see why people like it. Loaded hot, it's accurate and shoots pretty flat, a lot flatter than .38 special light loads.

    I don't consider the .32 mag as the ultimate in self defense, but it'd work better than .380 if out of a 4" gun like my friend's. My alloy J frame .38 is a lot lighter and compact for carry and more practical than his SSM for defense. There are DA J frames and the SP101, but you can get 'em in .357 or .38. One less round in the cylinder don't really bother me.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2006
  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I agree that the .32 H&R Magnum makes an excellent woods gun within its power limitations.

    So far as a defensive handgun is concerned, a lot of power is worthless unless the shooter can make precise hits on the vital organs of an opponent. For those that have a problem with recoil in an ultra-light snub-nosed revolver the .32 may be a better choice then something larger.
  4. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Well-Known Member

    I like the .32 Mag and carry one for SD. (not recoil sensitive)

    In a 13oz gun I find the recovery time to be quick , and believe the energy level to be sufficient . Works for me .

    For those who are recoil sensitive I do see it as an advantage and think it should be more popular than what it has been. It realy works well when combined with air-lite guns.
  5. denfoote

    denfoote Well-Known Member

    Here in the vast Sonoran desert, a .32 will just possibly get you dead!!
    There are things here that you don't want to mess with with anything less than a .357mag!!
    When I go tramping around in the desert I carry an N-Frame Smith and Wesson.
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    I agree the whole range of .32 caliber cartridges that were once the most popular by far for ranchers and backwoodsmen has been unfairly pushed aside. A .32 H&R or .32-20 is a fine cartridge for a revolver or levergun. The .32-20 has taken every animal in North America many times over. Believe it or not it's taken many brown bears up here, including some massive Kodiaks! The cartridges have several advantages. They come in very packable firearms, which is something the old timers valued more than we do because they had to pack them. There were few car trunks around to toss heavy iron into. They also aren't excessively loud, which was of considerable importance when ear protection was unknown and folks had to be ready to shoot at any game that reared its head. And they shot nice and flat. The .32-20 rifle was the original varmint killer.
  7. Bob79

    Bob79 Well-Known Member


    What exists in your desert that is so dangerous and tough that a 32 mag wouldn't stand a chance? Just curious, when I think of the desert, doesn't seem to me that too many larger animals reside there.
  8. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    I presume he doesn't mean the two-legged kind... :evil:

    The only two I worry about is a black bear (yes, there are some) and a steer. If you get one riled up or cornered you may have a problem. :what:
  9. Starter52

    Starter52 Well-Known Member

    There is not much that the .32 can do that a .38 special revolver can't do better. With the wide variety of .38 ammo available (at low cost) it is easy to see why the bigger bore is more popular.

    That being said, I enjoy shooting a .32 S&W Long revolver with factory .32 ACP ammo and my own (2.2 gr. RedDot) mild reloads.
  10. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member


    If you reload (which is an excellent idea) why not reload the .32 S&W Long cartridge and get the better performance and accuracy the revolver is capable of? :confused:
  11. mainmech48

    mainmech48 Well-Known Member

    Don't believe that there is a single, easy answer to this one. I have some guesses as far as contributing factors go.

    Familiarity: there just aren't too many folks around anymore with much practical experience shooting .32 revolvers of any chambering. Hopefully, the new interest among the Gamesman element of the Cowboy Costume Show in the cartridge will do something positive for that.

    Factory Ammo: Around here, aside from the .32 Auto, you can't just walk into any Wally World or small shop and pick up a couple of boxes of cartridges in that bore size. When you can find it, it's generally at least as expensive as "generic" .357 and sometimes more so. This does much to discourage many "casual" shooters from trying one, IMO.

    Lack of Choices: There just aren't many when it comes to new revolvers with the features many "outdoorsmen" prefer, like adjustable sights. For those who prefer a DA, there're even fewer. As you said, a lot of this has to be from the manufacturers relegating the round to the realm of SD for the Recoil Sensitive in their marketing. To be fair, they do have a good deal of sound economic reasoning behind this, given the failure of numerous models in other configurations to sell in enough quantity to keep them viable. The late, and largely unlamented, S&W M 16 reissues are case-in-point.

    Perceived Value/Utility: When paper ballistics for a .22 WRFM look comparable, and you can buy a bunch more cartridges for the money, which seems to make the most economic sense? When you can buy a nifty little revolver in that chambering in your choice of size and action type with the features you want for the same money or less, where does your dollar go? If a nice used .357 costs even less and seem to be able to do more potential jobs just as well or even better, which do you buy?

    No Companion Carbines: Until very recently, there were no handy little LA carbines made in .32 H&R. While this is just my own surmise, this is of no little consideration when the cash-strapped or maximum utility-minded among the semi-to-uncommited shooters are shopping. Two guns+one cartridge=Most of My Bases Covered for them today, just as it did back in 1875.

    I agree with you that the little .32 Mag should be able to handle at least 90% of the routine tasks for any outdoorsman with the skill and savvy to use it well. Apparently, we are something of a small minority in that.
  12. 461

    461 Well-Known Member

    .32 Mag is my pick for outdoors gun if nothing big and angry is in the area. My little SP-101 3" fills the bill just fine. Another great cartridge that wasn't marketed well and suffers in obscurity just like my other favorite, the .41Mag.
  13. phoglund

    phoglund Well-Known Member

    I take a bit of a different view on this issue. There are cartridges that seem to have a small following compared to the base utility of the cartridge. The .32 H&R is one of these as is the .41 Magnum. Both are high quality efficient rounds who's utility is overshadowed by more common rounds that overlap their capabilities such as the .38 Special and the .44 Magnum respectively. I own both .32 H&R and .41 Magnum revolvers and enjoy the uniqueness of owning something most people don't have. Sometimes it just feels good to know you are not following the crowd. The only downside is the limited availability of varied ammunition and firearms in these less popular guns. Reloading can ameliorate this difficulty to a great degree and that fact alone may be what finally starts me reloading myself.

    Enjoy these fine cartridges for what they are and quietly feel sorry for those who don't "go their own way" and get to enjoy them you and I do! :)
  14. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    My original '.32-ish' revolvers are the 1895 Nagants. While meant for the 7.62x38r tapered cartridge, a .32 S&WL or .32 H&RM will fit - and leave you with a bulged and/or split case, rendering the case useless for reloading. I squish .32-20 cases into a carbide .30 M1 Carbine die for sizing, then load them with .32 lead, dies, etc. Fun, but miserable trigger, both SA & DA.

    My 'real' .32 H&RM chambered revolver is a BHG Ruger SSM, bought when they were on 'closeout' earlier this year. Not the best example of QC, it has proven to be, after my work, a fun piece. Sadly, none of the Rugers are in the pipeline now... grab what you find, I suppose. The real kicker here is the round's age... it was released in 1984. It's predecesors, the .32 S&W and S&WL date back almost a century, of course.

    My favorite plinker is the typical .32-20 115gr LRNFP .312" bullet over 2.4gr Titegroup in the H&RM case for 730 fps from my 4.6" SSM. My soft Federal primers show some flattening, increasingly so as you increase the load to push the bullet to 800 fps. I am happy at 2.4 gr - I have shot over a hundred of them at a time with the revolver still quite clean - probably capable of hundreds more rounds before cleaning is required.

    The Georgia Arms 100gr JHP .32 H&RM round, probably sporting a Hornady bullet, is impressive - both in velocity, at 1,186 fps from my 4.6" SSM, and in nastifying one's revolver quickly. After 30 rounds, the ejector rod is so nasty, case ejection with same is all but impossible. I am slowly reloading my one time stash of 500 of these rounds, bought for a 432PD purchase that failed to materialize. I wonder what it would make, velocity-wise, from that Marlin lever gun.

    Fun round!

  15. GaryP

    GaryP Well-Known Member

    Mine is a Ruger SP101 4" with target sights purchased NIB back in 1997.
    It seems .32 H&R Mag ammo is about the same price around here as .32 S&W Long. These days I am going through my stash of 50 year old .32 S&W rounds I picked up at a yard sale. Some of the cases are turning green but all have fired so far and accuracy at 15 yards is good.

  16. Gaucho Gringo

    Gaucho Gringo Well-Known Member

    When shopping for "cowboy type" gun I had it narrowed down to a Taurus Gaucho in 357\38 or a Heritage Rough Rider in 32 H&R mag. The Heritage was almost 1\2 the cost of the Gaucho and I almost bought it. Before I made the decision I researched ammo cost and availability as I do not reload. I figured in the cost difference of the ammo between the two was such that by the time I shot 10 boxes of .38 that the price difference of the guns evaporated. I bought the Gaucho. I was tempted by the 32 H&R and if I reloaded it might of been different story.
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Yup, I think most folks that enoy shooting any .32 caliber revolver end up handloading to keep from going broke buying ammunition. However if you do decide to go that route you will find that the .32 H&R Magnum and/or the .32 S&W Long are inexpensive to make.

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